A very close call

On Sunday last week I took the boys to the first disc dog competition of the season.  Since Vito is working on his jumping for discs over our make shift broad jump to encourage a farther take off point, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with him when I got there.

I ultimately decided to enter him in freestyle but to limit ourselves to lots of rollers, some flips, and a few leg vault takes.  I wanted to avoid opportunities where Vito could get decide to leap from directly under the disc.  I also decided to enter him in toss and catch and try my hardest to throw low.  Keeping him safe was goals #1-5.

Freestyle round 1 was a disaster from a judging perspective.  Rollers and takes are not scorable, and I clearly had no plan, nor the looks of someone who was comfortable going with the flow (sorry buddy!).  Vito blew off or was slow to respond to about half the tricks I (lately) cued.  But towards the end of the two minutes I felt comfortable enough to crouch down so I could throw some very low, short tosses and I thought Vito did very well.

Toss and catch round 1 did not go as well.  My first two throws were nice, but Vito managed to get underneath them and do his spectacular acrobatics.  I tried to throw lower and my next two tosses went into the ground, but at least he didn't summersault.  The last toss was long and low and a catch for Vito.  I decided then not to do a second round and risk more craziness.

Freestyle round 2 was short.  I did the same plan but did less rollers and some more crouching, low tosses.  He managed a few crazy leaps in there anyway between nice ones.  And then I did a take from a leg vault.  Vito came up screaming and wouldn't stop. 

Thankfully a few minutes after being carried off the field he would put some weight on his front foot.  After spending all evening passed out next to me, wincing if he had to move, the next morning he bolted off the bed before I could even think of carrying him.  He acted as if the previous day had never happened!  A visit to the chiropractor resulted in some adjustments in his neck that can reveal itself in leg pain and a few more  adjustments in the ribs.  She noted no soft tissue damage and we were even given the all clear to resume activities as normal!

 Thank God!  But now I don't know what to do.  Dogs are capable of getting injured from any dog sport we do or even just from racing around the home.  I don't think that disc is really more dangerous for most dogs than any other sport as long as the throws are placed early enough for the dog to judge their leap from.  Vito's near catastrophe wasn't from a suicidal launch from underneath the disc; he just buckled the landing for no readily apparent reason.  But the truth is that Vito could have easily injured himself on several occasions on Sunday and any other time he has played.  I have been extremely lucky so far in our short disc dog career.

I knew that this summer might be our last one playing disc if I couldn't fix his jumping style.  Now I'm thinking that spending effort on our little jump grid is just delaying the inevitable.  We were supposed to have a private lesson when Pawsitive Vybe comes back into town this coming weekend.  I'm not sure if that is worth pursuing or not.

Ninso  – ( June 26, 2012 at 8:08 PM )  

FWIW, in your first round of freestyle, the judging panel was wondering why you decided to do FEO, since you would have scored decently. Rollers are scorable in FS, actually, though takes are not.

And I know this probably isn't what you want to hear, but from what I saw, I would be very hesitant to continue competing with him. He has no control over his body. Even on the flips and takes you were doing "to be safe," most of them made me wince. I think he probably does them fine if set up properly, but the throws were rushed and not well placed and that contributed to him flinging himself all over the place. The short, low tosses looked good. I think if you do continue to compete, you need to be ok with taking a ton of set-up time, giving Vito time to regroup and calm down between tosses, and slowing way down. Just my two cents.

Laura, Lance, and Vito  – ( June 26, 2012 at 8:57 PM )  

Huh, I didn't know rollers were scored. I too cringed on lots. I don't feel like I get nervous for disc but I'm not good with the openness of a sport and I think that leads me to rush and fumble. It's just the one sport where Vito loves it in practice AND competition.

Mango  – ( June 27, 2012 at 4:24 AM )  

I only did agility as a hobby, but after Dexter hurt his leg, I have decided not to do agility with him anymore. I'm going to focus on his freestyle stuff instead. I know you will figure out what is best for Vito. Athletes get injured. Doesn't mean he needs to retire or has something chronic, right?

Mango Momma

andrea  – ( June 27, 2012 at 10:08 AM )  

so glad he's ok ... but how very very scary ... a big descision for sure - given how much you both enjoy it ...

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